Science focus urged at first US-African leaders summit
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Science and technology must be at the heart of the debate at the first-ever US-Africa Leaders Summit that starts today, policy experts argue, as they call for 100,000 new science graduate places in the United States for Africans over the next ten years.
Fifty African leaders have been invited to the three-day summit, convened by US President Barack Obama in Washington DC, United States.
At least US$900 million worth of business deals between US companies and African nations will be formally announced during the summit, according to the US Commerce Department.
But the summit’s stated objective of “investing in the next generation” cannot be achieved if science and technology are ignored, according to Nkem Khumbah, joint coordinator of the capacity-building STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)-Africa Initiative at the University of Michigan, United States. He suggests the summit needs to go further than private sector deals to significantly benefit Africa’s development.
“If the US does not engage in science with Africa, Africa will certainly take longer — maybe more decades — to acquire the know-how to run the engines of its economies and society,” Khumbah tells SciDev.Net.